The last troubled love story is that of Michelangelo Buonarroti and Tommaso de 'Cavalieri. Michelangelo certainly needs no introduction, but perhaps a brief summary on the artist's aesthetic expression will be useful to understand the tormented love with the Roman nobleman, Tommaso de 'Cavalieri.
The power, energy and love for the male body are a distinctive feature of Michelangelo's works. It's enough to admire his works in Florentine museums such as the Tondo Doni at the Uffizi Gallery or his sculptures like the Bacchus at the Bargello Museum to realize how every body, even female ones, become an expression of love for shapes that are typical of the male body.
His life was by no means peaceful and the sculptor, in addition to being considered one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance even in his own lifetime, was also famous for his troubled personality, very quick-tempered and eternally dissatisfied.
Raised in the fement of the Florentine Renaissance, he came into contact with the great intellectuals of his time, from Poliziano and Pico della Mirandola to Marsilio Ficino, from whom he learned and embodied the neo-Platonic doctrine of love.
The meeting between Michelangelo and Tommaso de 'Cavalieri took place in Rome in 1532 and the two immediately formed a passionate bond. Michelangelo did not take long to describe the beauty of Tommaso as "the light of our century, a benchmark for the whole world".
As evidence of the relationship between the two, we have the letters that they exchanged from 1533, works of art whose portrait subject was Tommaso (among these is the Rape of Ganymede, whose myth we discussed in our article on the works and myths of LGBT art at the Uffizi) and several love sonnets, one of which reads "Love is not always a bitter and mortal sin".
Although their love became impossible due to the difficult temper of both, the two remained together for life. When Michelangelo died at 88 in 1564, Tommaso was by his side until the end.
Whether they are loves between two men, between two women or a love between man and woman, what is certain is that love in all its forms can be complicated.